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1. Overview

The fragile title of the introduction, which splits as it unites deconstruction and affirmative recreation, should not discourage the reader from even beginning to engage in an encounter with this thesis. This thesis is the product of an intense meditation on the relevance of Freud’s concepts of the life drive and the death drive for contemporary cultural and critical theory in the light of Melanie Klein’s projection-introjection mechanism. I consider  Bentham’s Panopticon to be the material form taken by the life and death drives as well as by the concepts of projection and introjection, since Foucault’s interpretation of it in his Discipline and Punish as the model of modern Western societies started to manifest its effects.  

I propose that these concepts, both the Freudian (life drive and death drive) and the Kleinian (introjection and projective identification), are becoming more and more relevant with the recent developments in technology. As an inorganic realm, the realm of technology forms a transparent sheet that blurs the line between life and death, the organic and the inorganic. But rather than develop a paranoid and reactive attitude towards technology, which would be a ridiculous thing to do at this stage of its development, I attempt to find a way of affirming life attached to technology in the face of the truth that affirmation of life requires affirming death within it.

There is no reason to interpret this attitude as a stance against technological development. On the contrary, my problem is not only with the content of the developmental process; technology remains a transitional object for me. My concern is also the form of the developmental process, the ways in which the failures of this developmental process manifest themselves, and where this developmental process is heading as seen in particular works of literature and cinema.

This thesis does not project an apocalyptic vision of existence. My will is highly optimistic, it is my intellect that is pessimistic.

One simply cannot conceal from oneself what all the willing that has received its direction from the ascetic ideal actually expresses: this hatred of the human, still more of the animal, still more of the material, this abhorrence of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and of beauty, this longing away from all appearance, change, becoming, death, wish, longing itself—all of this means—let us grasp this—a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental presuppositions of life; but it is and remains a will!… And, to say again at the end what I said at the beginning: man would much rather will nothingness than not will… [1]

During the course of my investigation first I distinguish two distinct forms of the will to nothingness. The first one is the death drive and the second one is the life drive. As we will see, I used Freud’s drive theory to split Nietzsche’s will to nothingness, or what might be called nihilism, into two separate but contiguous forms. These two forms of nihilism, that I distinguish using Freud and Nietzsche under the guiding hand of Melanie Klein, are perpetually in conflict with one another. At times they put on one another’s masks and costumes; they act out one another’s roles, and they keep the show business going on.

Perhaps what was at stake was the confrontation between Eros and Thanatos, the yet to be discovered life drive and death drive within him, when Nietzsche proclaimed himself Christ and Dionysus at the same time in one last cry. In this light I see the life drive and the death drive as the two constituent parts of the will to nothingness, two driving forces behind the will to nothingness, which give birth to the two different forms of contemporary nihilism: “Civilized progress” and “barbaric regress.”

But that I don’t find the resolution of the conflict between them satisfying does not mean that I am dreaming of a higher form of reconciliation. What I mean is that these two are always already reconciled, and yet that the only way to actualise this reconciliation is to think their separation through introducing a difference between them that unites them as it splits them.

I see the failure of the relationship between civilised progress and barbaric regress as something becoming increasingly relevant for an analysis of cultural and natural transformations of life. The ongoing conflict between what we started to understand from civilized progress and barbaric regress after Hegel and since his three different applications to the study of culture, embodied by Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, does not seem to have been a sufficiently fruitful one.

As Foucault put it in his essay Nietzsche, Marx, Freud with these three thinkers a new form of interpretation emerged in three different practices. Following Nietzsche, Foucault asserts that the dominant discourse of the classical period is “the history of an error.” According to Nietzsche this is a history written by the ones who hold the power but who are at the same time “the weak.” Nietzsche says that these have a slave mentality and this mentality subjects them to being reactive forces that multiply themselves by contaminating the others who are treated as inferior but are in fact “the strong.” In pursuit of escaping from that history of an error written by the slaves and which is a product of slave mentality, Foucault attempted to practice a new way of reading history which he, borrowing the term from Nietzsche, calls “genealogy.” In Foucault’s words from another essay in the same compilation,

Genealogy does not oppose itself to history as the lofty and profound gaze of the philosopher might compare to the molelike perspective of the scholar; on the contrary, it rejects the metahistorical deployment of ideal significations and indefinite teleologies. It opposes itself to the search for “origins.”[2] 

Where the soul pretends unification or the Me fabricates a coherent identity, the genealogist sets out to study the beginning—numberless beginnings, whose faint traces and hints of colour are readily seen by a historical eye.[3] 

Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud are they who set the task and determined the objective. This task is to learn from the past and sustain the conditions of impossibility for suffering to repeat itself. In other words, the task is to supply the subject with practical tools for living a long, healthy, and happy life. But the health of the subject is not separable from the improvement of the other’s conditions of existence. Horkheimer and Adorno, and Marcuse followed this line of thought.

Writing for different reasons, in a different way, and in a different context, the solutions of the past are my problems. My aim is to show that what seems to be a liberating attitude turns into its opposite and becomes a restrictive and paralysing theoretical approach. In other words, the symptom which is the non-reason inherent in reason turns into the cure when in fact it is the manifestation of the illness. This dynamic of a vicious cycle will be the major object of this study.

To stay alive in a state of conflict what one needs to learn to do is to write and rewrite a law for oneself as one goes along the way; a law that is permanently in touch with the others within and without. One is to become capable of imagining another world and still live in this world in such a way as to turn life into a movement towards a new life. Death as Law is interior to the subject as much as it is exterior to it. 

The Satyr, at his first sight of fire, wished to kiss and embrace it, but Prometheus said, “You, goat, will mourn your vanished beard,” for fire burns him who touches it, yet it furnishes light and heat, and is an instrument of every craft for those who have learned to use it.”[4]

At the root of every progressive movement Nietzsche sees a traumatic incident, and for that reason the real is always touched through a surface event. Nietzsche sees progress as an effect of regress and regress as an effect of progress. Nietzsche confuses causes and effects. For Nietzsche the event that manifests the change of roles between cause and effect always takes the form of a conflict between the causes and effects of regress and progress on/of one another. This unrepresentable and unnamable event, which, for Nietzsche, goes beyond the gap between the psychic and the somatic, is itself the cause of a traumatic effect the transcendence of which is at the same time a process of passing through the state of being governed by a superior and yet unknown force, death, which is interior and exterior to the life of the subject at the same time. For me this process involves passing through the walls of one’s wound rather than being caught up in an endless process of climbing over it and falling back in again. 

Slavoj Zizek points out that Lacan calls this process of passing through “traversing the fantasy.”[5] Deleuze would have said, it is, at the same time, traversing the symbolic, in that it is a passage across the field of affective intensities and partial objects where there remains no gap between fantasy and reality, psychic and somatic, part and whole, organ and body, self and world, transcendental and empirical. Traversing the fantasy is the process of becoming in and through which Nietzsche feels himself to be “all the names in history.” Where transcendence and immanence become one, there one experiences a sublimation of sublimation, and learns to affirm life as it is by affirming the negative contact, and lives on as pure immanence surviving psychic death.

 All this, of course, requires a realization that the external forces, having become interior to the subject, themselves create the conditions of negative contact, and yet the affirmation of the negating subject is itself constitutive of the affirmative contact.

Nietzsche had failed in surviving this process of realization. The confrontation with the unconscious, the Real forces of the outside, had become so intense that a spiralling of his thoughts into nothingness became inescapable. His painstaking process of writing against himself caused a turning against itself of his desire to immerse himself in the chaos of the Real. When this condition of impoverishment and exhaustion coincided with his will to write he found the strength to say what he may: “And, to say again at the end what I said at the beginning: man would much rather will nothingness than not will…”[6]

2. Objective

The principal objective of this thesis is to point out the continuing, and even increasing relevance of the concepts of life drive and death drive for contemporary cultural and critical theory. When Freud created the concepts of life drive and death drive he was influenced not only by Nietzsche, but also by Darwin’s theory of evolution and the neuroscience of his day. In the light of the recent developments in neuroscience Freud’s drive theory may appear to have lost its relevance, and yet this does not mean that it cannot be affirmatively recreated and put to use in the critique of contemporary cultural products and the psychoanalysis of the world in general. The use of these concepts should not mean that I am reducing being human to a dualistic vision of life, for I am not ignoring the existence of other drives such as the drive to play, but trying to show that many cultural products still operate at the level of a Freudo/Cartesian dualism, and are based on the production, exploitation and/or oppression of the life drive and the death drive.  

I situate the concepts of the life drive and the death drive in the context of philosophy and rethink these concepts through their relation to immanence and transcendence, affirmation and negation. It would, however, be too simplistic to equate the life drive with transcendence and the death drive with immanence. That, precisely, is not the case in this thesis. To my mind the life drive unifies the multiple by transcending death and the death drive splits the given unities by transcending life. So life/death drives are both transcendence and negation oriented, whereas immanence and affirmation signify and are signified by life/death without unconscious drives, but conscious desiring. This form of being in relation to the concepts of life drive and death drive enables me to see these drives not as unchanging constituents of human nature and life, or as solidly defined concepts constitutive of a certain kind of knowledge about human nature and life but as modes of being and forms of thinking produced and projected onto human nature by cultural products. In the light of this, I propose that these concepts can be used as components of a mobile and dynamic critical apparatus targeting the works in and through which the myths of life drive and death drive are not only produced, but also exploited and/or oppressed.

I attempt to show how the life drive is exploited as the death drive is oppressed in some literary and filmic texts, while the death drive is exploited and the life drive is oppressed in some others. The condition of possibility for the oppression/exploitation of the life/death drives to take place is sustained by a manipulation of the ambiguous relationship between these two; they can easily reverse the roles and disguised as their opposites, the life drive and the death drive become enemies working in the service of destroying the subject whose life, with the advance of global capitalism and the increasing abuse of the recent developments in technology, has literally become an oscillation between them. For instance, the subject takes on the characteristics of Eros as his persona, becomes a virtual Eros in a chat-room on the internet, but has to act like a Thanatos at work, and becomes someone who pretends to be a Thanatos in ordinary social reality, when in fact he prefers to be a descendant of Eros, or inversely.

 My aim in this study is to look for traces and investigate the implications of this paradoxical situation in particular works of philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural and critical theory, literature, and cinema produced during the twentieth century. At present this situation in which the subject finds himself/herself has become not only imposed on the subject but also willed by the subject.

As I already said, while in some cases the death drive becomes the target of exploitation/oppression, in some other cases the life drive becomes this target. I use texts from, cinema, literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis in order to explicate this theory of the emergence of the new forms that power, embodied by and embodying the Big Other, takes.

Unless one splits the past and the present, the self and the other, the theory and the practice, the life drive and the death drive, the subject of enunciation(conscious desire) and the enunciated content(the unconscious drive), the critical and the clinical, it becomes impossible to create a space out of which a new and practical truth emerges, and hence the conditions of existence cannot be developed.  All these binaries are separate but contiguous to one another, they are always already reconciled but the only way to actualize this reconciliation is to introduce a split between them which unites them as it exposes the gap inherent in their relationship. We are in the process of realizing this precisely because we have started to see that if theory is not practical it serves nothing. This realization should bring with it a will to split theory and practice, for their unity means the destruction of both of them; already before the beginning of the process of becoming one they start destroying one another. Their oneness is their death, for one dies as much, more than one lives as such. For me theory aims at developing practical ways of practicing freedom, and its goal is to sustain the conditions for the possibility of its own destruction. On this both Adorno and Foucault agree.

In the light of the result of my investigation I propose that a practical theory of progress based on an interaction between deconstruction and affirmative recreation is not only possible but is also already at work within the contemporary psychosomatic and sociopolitical realms of experience.

3. Method

The nature of this study requires an interdisciplinary and a multi-methodological attitude which goes beyond the opposition between merely conceptual and merely empirical approaches. It is based on a mode of enquiry which takes its driving force from thought-experiments that open paths to a new field in which various perspectives interact and form an intra-subjective dimension of theoretical practice situating psychoanalysis, cognitive neuroscience, and philosophy in the context of cultural and critical theory. For the emergence of a new truth out of the old knowledge one must pose new questions concerning the workings of the human mind. In the light of the recent developments in cognitive neuroscience, for instance, especially the works of Antonio Damasio and Gerald Edelman, Freud’s concepts of the life drive and the death drive, Klein’s concepts of introjection and projective identification, and Wilfred Bion’s affirmative recreation of Klein’s theories in the way of a theory of thinking become extremely relevant for the development of a universal cultural and critical theory.

Cognitive neuroscience proposes that the quality of an external object is always already projected onto that object by the neuronal activity of the brain. What cognitive neuroscience lacks is a historical context, likewise what cultural studies lacks is an organic basis. An interaction between psychoanalysis, linguistics, philosophy, cultural studies, and cognitive neuroscience can break out of the closure of the humanities and give birth to the link which has come to be considered missing, between nature and nurture, organic and inorganic, empirical and conceptual, epistemological and ontological, transcendental and immanent, the objective and the subjective.

Because of the dynamic and parallel nature of re-entry and because it is a process of higher-order selection, it is not easy to provide a metaphor that captures all the properties of re-entry. Try this: Imagine a peculiar (and even weird) string quartet, in which each player responds by improvisation to ideas and cues of his or her own, as well as to all kinds of sensory cues in the environment. Since there is no score, each player would provide his or her own characteristic tunes, but initially these various tunes would not be coordinated with those of the other players. Now imagine that the bodies of the players are connected to each other by myriad fine threads so that their actions and movements are rapidly conveyed back and forth through signals of changing thread tensions that act simultaneously to time each player’s actions. Signals that instantaneously connect the four players would lead to a correlation of their sounds; thus, new, more cohesive, and more integrated sounds would emerge out of the otherwise independent efforts of each player. This correlative process would alter the next action of each player, and by these means the process would be repeated but with new emergent tunes that were even more correlated. Although no conductor would instruct or coordinate the group and each player would still maintain his or her style and role, the player’s overall productions would lead to a kind of mutually coherent music that each one acting alone would not produce.[7]

The model of mind conceptualized by Gerald Edelman shows us that the mind is an embodied substance which has the ability to adapt to changes surrounding it. If we keep in mind that cinema, literature, art, and music show how the mind works at a particular moment in history, as well as the emotional state of that particular moment, it becomes clear why a mode of enquiry rather than a specific method is required for the analysis and critique of human consciousness and its relation to the environment surrounding it. In this context, the plot driven critique of the literary and filmic texts aims at distinguishing between the world of consciousness and the world of appearances. My claim is that it is only through looking at the mortal world of appearances with the eyes of an immortal consciousness that we can see that which is present as an absence in the predominant symbolic order. By looking at “what happens when” in a movie or a book as well as “how that thing happens,” I sustain the conditions of impossibility as the conditions of possibility for cont(r)action to take place and give birth to an immortal subject. Needless to say, this subject is also an object encountering and encountered by the unknown within the known, the chaos inherent in the order itself, that calls forth he who has died so many times and is yet to die again and be reborn many more times so as to live as dead again. The reader might be disappointed because I will not have pursued and incorporated Edelman’s neural Darwinism and further developed the idea of a context-bound cognitive neuroscience and a matter(brain) based cultural and critical theory. The reason for this is that I discovered Edelman’s work towards the end of writing my thesis, and then  rewrote the Introduction. As a matter of fact, after this discovery the whole thesis itself could have been rewritten. Just as the Law changes its object and is in turn changed by that object, my critical apparatus, too, changes and is changed by its objects, in this case cultural products, be they filmic, literary or philosophical texts. It is such that this theoretical narrative moves on in such a way as to cut itself from its own past and unite with its own future at the same time, that is, in one simultaneous movement in two directions at once.

Hence it becomes clear why I pay attention to “what happens when” and “how that thing happens,” at the same time. For this I am indebted to Edelman who shifted the perspective of cognitive neuroscience from “how the brain makes sense,” to “when the brain makes sense.” If one reads the writings on film and literature in this thesis with the conscious naivety of their plot based critique in mind, one can sense the underlying current of humour and the erratic undertone of irony, both of which knock down the serious tone of the critique based on a linear reproduction of a circular plot – as we see in the investigation of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive for instance.

In his Critique of Judgement, Kant distinguishes between the determinative and the reflective modes of judgement.

If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, the judgement that subsumes the particular under it… is determinative. If, however, only the particular for which the universal is to be found is given, judgement is merely reflective.[8]

If we keep in mind that the reflective mode of judgement reflects on particulars in such a way as to produce universals to which they can be subjected, and that the determinative mode of judgement determines a particular by subjecting it to a universal, it becomes understandable why among these two I shall be using the reflective mode which splits as it unites the subject of enunciation and the enunciated subject. But it must be kept in mind that the subject of enunciation which refers to the universal is itself a constitutive illusion, or a regulatory idea necessary for the emergence of the immortal subject as the enunciated content. It is only in and through a position of non-mortality within and without mortal life at the same time that the exploitation of mortality can be brought into the spotlight. A critique of the exploitation of mortality inherent in particularly exemplary cultural products will be achieved through putting them in a perspective that analyzes the life death drives in such a way as to expose the exploitation of the fear of death as the driving force inherent in them. The point is that it is indeed necessary to fantasize being what one is not, in our case being non-mortal, to be able to become self-conscious of one’s self-reflexivity in the way of creating an order of signification not caught up in the rotary motion of drives locked in Klein’s projection-introjection mechanism,  but rather one which breaks this vicious cycle and at least attempts to subtract death from life in a counter-act to the post-structuralist idea of life as a process of dying and death as an absent presence in the midst of life. It is only through such a subtraction of the absent presence of death within life that the productive interaction between Deleuze’s transcendental empiricism, Foucault’s bio-politics, Badiou’s theory of infinity, and Kant’s reflective mode of judgement give birth to the immortal subject as the womb of a new thought, a new life, and a new mode of being, free of the exploitation of mortality and engagingly indifferent to this mortal, all too mortal life.

Let us imagine a subject who finds himself in a certain situation which appears to have no escape route; a situation which nails him to a painful existence and brings him closer to extinction with every move he makes. What he needs is Bion’s theory of creative process and the emergence of new thought from within the dominant projection-introjection mechanism. In his Theory of Thinking Bion says that dismantling is as important in creative process as integration, that is, introjection and splitting are as necessary as projective identification and unification. Bion pays special attention to the process of introjection and projective identification and recreates Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position as a way of showing that it has two forms; one is healthy and the other is pathological. For Klein it was only with the attainment of the depressive position that the formless experience was given a form, the thoughts were invested with symbolic meanings. Bion sees introjection and projective identification as the two separate but contiguous halves and the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions as the complementary parts of one another in the creative process. Now, if, following Bion, we think about Klein’s introjection and projective identification in the context of Derrida’s technique of deconstructive reading, we see that deconstruction is a mobile and dynamic mode of critique which moves between fragmentation and integration of the meaning of a text. Although deconstruction, as practised by Derrida himself, adapts itself to the internal dynamics of the text as the object of critique, it still lacks the affirmative and immanent fluidity which is necessary to open up holes, or passages, through which a new truth in touch with the requirements of the present situation can slip. This is because Derrida’s practice of deconstruction is still a negating activity and a transcendence oriented practice, which remains within the confines of the antagonistic relationship between the life drive and the death drive. To become affirmative, deconstructive practice needs to produce and incorporate its own difference from itself, that is, it has to become immanent to itself and the text it interprets.

As a mode of thinking, deconstruction attempts to erase the gap between the life drive and the death drive, but always fails, and this failure eternally confines deconstructive practice to the domain of antagonism between the life drive and the death drive. And if we keep in mind that deconstruction as a mode of thinking has become the dominant way of being creative we can understand why a critique of deconstruction is a critique of contemporary culture.

In this thesis I try to expose the workings of the deconstructive practice in certain works of art, literature, and cinema, which, consciously or unconsciously, exploit the ambiguity of the relationship between the life drive and the death drive, hence oppressing the one or the other. Needless to say this oppression of the one or the other necessarily exploits the one or the other, for oppression of the one requires exploitation of the other. As a consequence of this dynamic inherent in contemporary nihilistic culture projected onto the subject, the reader/spectator is removed out into the transcendental world of unconscious drives, leading to an illusory sense of omniscience on behalf of the reader/spectator.

The difference between deconstruction and affirmative recreation is that in the former an interaction between the destruction of a structure based on metaphysics of presence and creation of an opening, production of a void within the meaning of the text based on logocentrism is at work, whereas what is at work in the latter is a simultaneous dismantling of meaning, opening up of a void in the context of the text, and sustenance of the conditions for the possibility of the meaning’s flow in and through this void and out into the outside of the dominant context.[9] Derrida’s well known proposition that “there is nothing outside the text” is not the basic assumption of affirmative recreation; quite the contrary, a hole is opened within the context, and the meaning of the text flows through this hole. The meaning of the text is made to move on progressively, not just left without any foundations on which to stand and consequently fall. Deconstruction is concerned with exposing the rigidity and the solidity of rigid structures and solid constructions as is clear from its name. In a nutshell this is what Derrida’s self-reflexive reading strategy called deconstruction does: the socially and historically constructed and generally accepted dominant meaning of the text is explicated. And then this meaning is shown to be self-contradictory through the opening of a gap between what the author intended to say and what he has actually said. In affirmative recreation what’s at stake is a melting of the meaning and its continuous reshaping like a sculpture. The text is turned from a solid state into something like lava or clay and kept hot for further and perpetual reshaping, not into another completed sculpture. For me sculptures are products of an attempt to freeze life and/but a frozen life is no different from death.    

  4. The Cont®act

The word cont(r)act in the title of the introduction means two things at the same time. The first one is counter-act and the second one is implosion. When these two meanings intersect we get a contact without a contract. In this new form of contact the parties involved agree on the necessity of the absence of a contractual relationship in their contact. For the two meanings of the cont(r)act, counter-act and implosion, to function interactively in the way of sustaining the conditions of possibility for the emergence of a contact without a contract between the self and the other, an affirmative attitude is required. When and if the cont(r)act becomes affirmative, the counter-act and the implosion of the pre-dominant projection-introjection mechanism, which we can also refer to as the pre-dominant context based on negation and transcendence, intervenes in the situation and interrupts the order of things. Cont(r)action opens a hole in the internal structure of the projection-introjection mechanism and initiates change in the way of opening up new paths towards new modes of being, thinking, and creation.

It is important to note here that every projection-introjection mechanism belongs to the world of unconscious drives. Opening a hole in the world of unconscious drives makes the good objects and the bad objects spiral into the void and the subject escapes oscillation between the paranoid-schizoid position and the depressive position, or between the life and death drives. This also means that the subject’s world turns from being governed by the metaphysical mode of production based on unconscious drives and into the social mode of production based on conscious desiring.

The concept of cont(r)act is the product of an interaction between deconstruction and affirmative recreation. The cont(r)act produces an outside within the pre-dominant projection-introjection mechanism, or context. Cont(r)action connects the counter forces of the inside with the unnameable forces of the outside. The inward explosion creates a turbulence within the projection-introjection mechanism causing the good objects and the bad objects to spiral into the outside within created by the counter forces of the inside and into the void constituted by the unnameable forces of the outside. We must remember that good and bad are concepts that belong not to the material world but to the metaphysical world, not to life but to the beyond of life. As we know, psychotics see everything in terms of a struggle between the forces of good and evil. If we apply this psychotic vision to the polarity of the life drive and the death drive we can understand what I actually want to mean when I make a distinction between the world of unconscious drives and the world of conscious desiring. But by doing this am I not, in a psychotic fashion, dividing the world into two; the bad world of unconscious drives and the good world of conscious desiring? Am I not, in a way, trying to transcend the state of being governed by the unconscious drives? I am indeed, for I still am within the psychotic world of metaphysics trying to create an outside, or an opening to loving without interpretation and identification. To achieve this I have to act self-reflexively, which I think is what I do when say it is necessary to pass from the state of being governed by unconscious drives to the mode of being productive of conscious desiring. This self-reflexivity and these paradoxical statements are the forms this passage takes and they lie at the decentred heart of my epoch.    

To sum it up and to clarify it all I shall now say what I merely hinted at right at the beginning. The theory of cont(r)act employs deconstruction and affirmative recreation with the aim of sustaining the conditions of possibility for a fragile and yet affirmative contact not based on a contract between the self and the other, between the old and the new, between illness and health, between the clinical and the critical, and even between life and death. The counteract and the implosion are the complementary positions of cont(r)action, that is, of the theoretical practice demonstrating an interaction between deconstruction and affirmative recreation.

5. Structural Summary Of The Thesis

The thesis is composed of three parts divided into six chapters, each of which is  divided within itself into several subsections, followed by the consequences and an afterword. The three major parts concentrate on three different discursive forms (theoretical, filmic, literary) and each part stands for one of the three different positions in the course of the developmental process of a practical theory of cont(r)action composed of two complementary actions counter to one another which are deconstruction and affirmative recreation. These three positions in the developmental process of a practical theory of cont(r)action, which is constituted by and is constitutive of a theoretical practice demonstrating the interaction between deconstruction and affirmative recreation, are worked through application to contemporary theoretical(part I), filmic(part II), and literary(part III) texts.

The enunciated content of the thesis is not one, but three. If one of these is missing, however, the other two cannot persist. For the enunciated content to stand firm and manifest itself they have to remain separate from but contiguous to one another at all times.

In each chapter the relationships between progress and regress, creativity and destruction, projection and introjection, identification and alienation, the life drive and the death drive, as well as theory and practice, are analyzed in various ways and using varying means. There is not one way of looking at things here, but three; for each part requires its own way of being looked at.

The theoretical, literary, and filmic texts studied can be considered partial-objects interacting with one another where a fragile contact between illness and health, psychoanalysis, philosophy, post-structuralism, and critical theory, and even East and West, North and South, West and North, the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic takes place. These theoretical, literary, and filmic texts are transitional objects in the service of explicating the relevance of Kleinian concepts of projective identification and introjection, and Freudian concepts of the life drive and the death drive, for contemporary cultural and critical theory.

The first chapter opens with the summary of the encounter between Freud and Einstein upon a call from the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in 1932. This first chapter aims at defining and analyzing the formation of certain concepts, such as the life drive and the death drive, introjection and projective identification, which will play dominant roles throughout the thesis. In this chapter I also compare the projects and critical strategies of post-structuralism and the Frankfurt School drawing on sources from Adorno and Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze. The first chapter attempts to lay the foundations of a healthy conflict between philosophy and psychoanalysis, as well as psychotherapy, or clinical theory and critical theory. It also sets the grounds for the analysis of the relationship between creativity, automatism, and the Real in the following chapters.

            In the second chapter I intend to show the relevance of Lacan’s theory of subject formation to the thesis and link it to Klein’s pre-verbal – if not pre-linguistic – stage of development. Lacan’s critique of Klein for being too biological is reconsidered through a look at their altering theorizations of the emergence of schizophrenia which can be translated from Greek as “split-soul,” or, “broken-heart.”

The third chapter investigates the cinematic apparatus and how it is able to directly communicate with the unconscious and shape it. I tend to believe that in its present state cinema is a machinery that populates the spectator with “bad objects,” and following Christian Metz, I argue that it is not by saying that cinema is the “good object” that cinema will get better, on the contrary, my critique of the cinematic apparatus targets its use as a tool for manipulating the unconscious; my critique of cinema is aimed at criticizing a particular use of cinema which gives birth to a larval fascism by constantly provoking projective identification.

The fourth chapter concentrates on David Cronenberg’s films including The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers, Videodrome,  eXistenZ, The Naked Lunch, and is aimed at explicating Deleuze’s version of the relationship between creativity and destructivity. In Cronenberg’s movies we usually have an artist, a writer, or a scientist who undertakes a creative task and/but whose project turns against itself in the process through the domination of his psyche with the non-symbolizable aggressive impulses. Cronenberg portrays creative people who in time turn into agents of destruction through science and art. And Deleuze has often mentioned the possibility of an interruption of the creative process by the entry of a traumatic kernel which should remain non-symbolized and unconscious if one were to be able to go on creating consciously without becoming self-destructive.

The fifth chapter looks at the Surrealist movement and how Breton tried to use the unconscious in a productive way and failed in doing so. To show the shortcomings of Surrealism I use Bataille’s comparison of Nietzsche and the surrealists and his criticism of Dali’s Lugubrious Game. This is followed by a brief comparison of Artaudian theatre of cruelty and Shamanism. We will have seen that Surrealists and Artaud laid the foundations of two differently conceived techniques of manipulating the unconscious drives and exploiting the ambiguity of the relationship between the life drive and the death drive. The next section of the fifth chapter is on Beckett and analyzes Beckett’s generic thought as pointed out by Alain Badiou in his book On Beckett. I try to show how Beckett not only represents the human-condition through subtraction of the Symbolic from the Real, but also to portray a Beckett explicating the dynamics of the unconscious as a hole in the subject in his plays such as Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Endgame

The sixth chapter investigates the relationship between literature, psychoanalysis, violence and trauma. My intention in this chapter is to investigate the ethical and the political implications of trying to represent the traumatic kernel which resists symbolization. I especially concentrate on D.M. Thomas’s The White Hotel which is a post-structuralist novel about the Holocaust and a problematization of the truth of psychoanalysis. Working through The White Hotel I attempt to put under a critical and clinical magnifying glass the foundations of the contemporary understanding of “healthy living.” In this chapter I also analyze the interaction between the life drive and the death drive in William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies and the workings of projective identification and introjection in Jack Kerouac’s The Subterraneans. This last chapter prepares the grounds on which I can finally show, via Slavoj Zizek and Friedrich Nietzsche, how illness is presented as health in today’s transglobal capitalism, how the roles of affirmation and negation, immanence and transcendence, the life drive and the death drive are reversed, turning them into their opposites.

Following the consequences, which uses Alain Badiou’s theory of infinity and the immortal subject to break the vicious cycle of the life and death drives in the way of opening the realm of love beyond the rotary motion of drives and the law of capital, the thesis ends with an Afterword entitled and composed of A Conversation Around Nietzsche Between a Stoic and a Sceptic.  Before the conversation, however, there is a note on the context of this conversation and its connection to Klein’s projection-introjection mechanism as well as Hegel’s unhappy consciousness. In other words, the first section of the afterword links the conversation to the theories of the subject in the works of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Klein. Entitled The Unhappy Consciousness, or, the Stoics and Sceptics Locked in Klein’s Projection-Introjection Mechanism, it is a theoretical explication of the relationship between Hegel’s concept of the unhappy consciousness and Klein’s paranoid-schizoid position and manic-depressive position. It is essential to the nature of this study that it ends with a division between a Stoic and a Sceptic embodied by Nietzsche. This division is, at the same time, the one between Eros and Thanatos, or Oedipus and Narcissus; and Nietzsche conceived this division within himself in the form of a division between Christ and Dionysus. But what about the Stoic and the Sceptic, where do they enter the scene?   

Today Stoicism is considered a therapeutic philosophy of life and Scepticism is considered a critical attitude. Stoicism adapts the subject to the existing order and Scepticism detaches the subject from it. These two attitudes are embodied by Nietzsche, whose life consisted in an oscillation between illness and health. Therefore, a conversation around Nietzsche between a Stoic and a Sceptic is actually a conversation between clinical theory and critical theory taking place within Nietzsche’s head.


[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morality, transl. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998), 118

[2] Michel Foucault, Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, from “Essential Works vol.2: Ethics,” ed. Paul Rabinow, trans. Robert Hurley and others (London: Penguin, 1998), 370

[3] Foucault, 374

[4] Plutarch, Moralia Vol.2, transl. F.C. Babbitt (Harvard University Press; Cambridge, 1971), 8-9

[5] Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject (London: Verso, 1999), 51

[6] Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morality, transl. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998), 118

[7] Gerald Edelman,  A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 49

[8] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. James Creed Meredith (London: Wilder Publications, 2008), 13

[9] It is important to note that here context signifies the dominant projection-introjection mechanism. To go outside this projection-introjection mechanism requires what Bion calls “the binocular vision.” Binocular vision means that the subject is still within the dominant context and yet he is also in touch with another mode of being which he is able to project onto the present and future. Binocular vision is the first step towards creating a new situation out of the present situation. Wilfred Bion,  A Theory of Thinking, Second Thoughts, (London: Karnac Books, 1984).

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